Tor, Jul 7 2009, $17.99
Every year the Eradicants, who believe the written word is evil, come to the Libyrinth to get a segment of books to burn in a bonfire. The Libyrarians believe the Ancients left the Libyrinth so that people can read land earn in order to keep civilization vibrant. Unfortunately, the Libyrinth only has two countries to guard the books and they have orders to sell books for food needed in the winter. They have nothing else of value to pay for sustenance.
The Libyrarian Selene, the clerk Haly who has the unique skill of hearing the books talk to her, and Claudia the servant leave to go to Ilysies in hope of getting help. Selene takes with her The Book of Nights containing the knowledge of the Ancients. The Eradicants want the tome to fulfill a prophecy and now have Haly, who can her the books talk, under their control. Their plan is to destroy all other knowledge except their Song which is their way of transmitting information. However, neither side appreciates Haly’s strength and special skill as she becomes to understand the enemy is not evil and her side is inflexible and heading towards annihilation. Haly hopes to get the word out to both sides of the conflict to just listen to one another.
Peal North’s world appears to be a former earth colony in which the Ancients were probably the aristocracy and the rest of the Eradicants slaves to them. Revolt led to the current rivalry over controlling knowledge. With nods to Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 and Orwell’s 1984, high school science fiction readers will appreciate Ms. North’s strong tale that shows miscommunication and misunderstanding the other side often leads to conflict; in this case a devastating civil war seems imminent unless the heroic Haly can pull off an Ancient miracle.